AT&T 4G LTE iPhone Planned for 2012 Launch? [Updated]

130111 iphone 4 side shot

One of the major questions about future iPhones has been at what point Apple will choose to offer "4G" LTE compatibility. With Verizon only just beginning to roll out its own 4G network, rumors have indicated that the CDMA-based iPhone 4 widely rumored for a launch early this year will not support 4G. The bigger question has been whether Apple will support 4G in the fifth-generation iPhone presumably set to debut sometime in the middle of the year, with several reports indicating that Apple will skip 4G compatibility at that point as well.

In covering a CES keynote address by AT&T's Ralph de la Vega, Boy Genius Report notes that de la Vega's comments suggest that a 4G LTE iPhone is in fact not coming until 2012.

De la Vega included Apple in his list of manufacturers set to launch LTE devices in 2012, implying that AT&T will launch a 4G LTE-compatible Apple iPhone next year

De la Vega reportedly also confirmed AT&T's plans for an accelerated timetable for deployment of its LTE network, looking to launch sometime this year with completion set for 2013. He also noted that the HSPA+ improvements that have already spread to much of the company's network already come relatively close to 4G speeds.

While many observers have been hoping that Apple will be an early adopter of LTE technology to support the ever-increasing data demands of iPhone users, past history has suggested that Apple will sit on the sidelines until the LTE service becomes more widespread and has had time to mature. Despite the fact that AT&T offered a 3G data network at the time of the iPhone's initial launch in 2007, the first-generation device did not support the technology and operated only on the carrier's slower-but-more-widely-available EDGE network.

Update: Boy Genius Report has updated its article to note that AT&T has officially denied that de la Vega confirmed an LTE iPhone for 2012. It appears that the confusion has stemmed from AT&T's decision to call both its existing HSPA+ network and its forthcoming LTE network "4G" for marketing purposes.

Well, AT&T's ridiculous decision to call both HSPA+ and LTE "4G" is already causing problems -- AT&T contacted us to let us know that no iPhone-related LTE announcements were made. Apparently the "4G" mentioned alongside de la Vega's mention of Apple did not refer to LTE "4G".

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